Life after the Elysée Palace needn't be all glum, as Nicolas and Carla are finding out
Just as he did when he was last cast to into the political abyss in 1999 (after the European elections defeat), Nicolas Sarkozy has launched himself into learning English with a passion: Taking classes three times a week, he’s in full preparation at his chill-out base in Cap Nègre on the Cote d’Azur – the family home of his wife’s people.
In October, it’s off to New York with him at the invitation of a large American bank for his first international conference as former Head of State.
Long before his electoral defeat last June and his subsequent official departure from political life, Sarkozy had often talked about how he would lead his life “après-Elyséee”.
“I’m in it for two terms – no more,” he told friends. “After that, it’s the dolce vita… You think I’ll start again and go for regional councillor, like Giscard (d’Estaing)? No – after this, I’ll change my life and make some money!”
He wasn’t short of offers from the very moment he stepped out of the Elysée Palace. Anglo-American law firm Link-laters wanted him as senior advisor; a member of management team. American universities and European think tanks all wanted him in their team. “On conferences alone, you can live quite comfortably,” Nicolas Sarkozy explained to his friends over the summer.
The conference circuit is lucrative as ex-prime minister of Spain José Maria Aznar would have told him, as well as that of advisory roles in multinationals coming in at €30,000 a pop. Tony Blair is another dab hand at making cash after politics too, with an even more impressive tour circuit of his own, believed to be a multiple of Aznar’s income. On top of that, of course, are, in descending order of size, Mr Sarkozy’s pension as former president, as former mayor and of president of the regional council, his payment as member of the Constitutional Council and, of course, the not-inconsiderable income of his multi-talent actress/singer wife.
Spare a thought for his successor. Recently-elected President François Hollande is languishing in the popularity polls, with the French people displaying a harsh level of disenchantment with his regime so far. According to a poll by Ifop published on Sunday, Hollande underwent one of the most marked drops in popularity of any president of the Fifth Republic.
According to Ifop, 56% of those polled are dissatisfied with Hollande – a drop of 11 percentage points from August. Only 43% of respondents declared themselves satisfied with his performance as president.
“Only Charles de Gaulle in June 1962 after the Evian Accord putting an end to the Algerian War and Jacques Chirac in June 2005 after the failure of the European Constitutional Treaty have done worse,” says Frédéric Dabi, the director of the Ifop poll.
On top of that or perhaps alongside it depending on your point of view, coalition partners in the Green Party have rejected his draft budget. Bet he can’t wait until it’s all over. How much did you say you get for those conferences again?